Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wire wrapping... uh, the fifth?

Check the bottom photo for scale (until I add specific measurements for each item)

I keep confusing this one with the other stone w/ a curl...

Front view and side view. The interesting thing is that half the stone is translucent, and the layer between the opaque and translucent is a shiny purple.

The color is sort of akin to foil on the stone, not as much the veins on the other stones.

The iron-stone is oddly light colored, but the little splash of opal color is pretty entertaining.

Two shots of the front of this stone--it's pretty dark, but the color flecks are quite strong. This is the first stone I drilled, and thus far it is the only one that is not wrapped, but rather glued.

Boulder, with the clearest matrix thus far. It's stronger colored on the right, but the pattern is quite consistent on both sides. Drill-mounted wire (fairly minor).

This was probably the one that most caught my eye. I don't think I am too happy with how the wrapping came out, though it is good enough. The front/back are very similar, but the front is more domed. The thick vein runs fully though the stone, so it looks pretty brilliant when back-lit. The eye-loop is anchored via drill-hole (I couldn't justify wrapping across the thick vein!)

Oddly, this is probably the wrapping job I am most proud of, not just in this set, but so far (out of nearly 20 stones). The color of the opal itself is distinctly ... whelming. Neither over, nor under, just... whelming. It's a nice color, but the 3-D/translucent/"opal-y" characteristic is difficult to see.
The stone is very narrow (goes from 1mm to 2mm), fairly long (19mm), and very, very deep (7mm). Notes on construction: I drilled through the thin end of the stone, but the drill chipped the stone upon exiting, so I was left with a crater-ish thing on the left side. To mask/cover/camouflage the chipping, I made a small spiral to mount flush against the side, pulled the wire through and made some flourishes to make the eye-loop more interesting. Somehow this one just works so well aesthetically for me.

Line up, with scale.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Opals, video view

Well, the depth of focus is crap, so it's pretty fuzzy. I had to sacrifice the focus depth in order to get the view close enough to show the colors. Since you're looking for flashes of light, I guess the fuzziness isn't as obscuring as it might be for... text, or somesuch.

1. Queensland boulder opal chip
2. Boulder matrix, jeweler finished. (Crimson, blues, greens)
3. Boulder matrix, jeweler finished. (Blues, greens)
4. Boulder chip, raw
5. Crystal opal? raw (semi-matte, light blue fire)
6. White/milk opal (the only opal here that was meant for normal jewelry)*
7. Black opal, raw
8. Black opal, raw (uber-uber-matte)
9. Black opal, raw (I'm pretty certain it's black opal, even if you think it's not)

*I got this in the best deal ever, but I probably can't mount this for jewelry till I accumulate some standard lapidary tools and skills. Traditional gem-working is a very, very expensive hobby.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Opal-related hijinks

I now have little display cases for them!
(I wanted to put the little "Australian Opal" stickers on the cases, but they would've obscured 75% of the lid...)

Actually, this entry was composed as rant, but I might as well tell you about some of the processes behind the wire-wrapped opals I've been posting.

I've been using 22 gauge, round sterling wire in half-hard temper. I do have some full-soft sterling in 0.6mm, marginally thinner than 22ga, and I will try some 0.5mm half-hard next.
I call these things "wire-wrapped" though there's not much wrapping--I'm mostly shaping the wires into a frame/cage for the stone, and that's done with pliers and hands.
Some of the chips I have are poorly finished, so I've acquired some 6000 and 8000 grit abrasives, and they've brought some chips to an acceptable polish. There are several stones, though, without the stereotypical opal "fire," though they are still beautifully iridescent. I think they're still worth wrapping, so I'll being doing that soon enough.

Most of the chips I haven't wrapped yet were just in need of a bit of shine, but I want to modify the shapes for
a few.
And here's the rant: there's one stone where I wanted to remove the burr that the cutter neglected to finish removing. The problem is that this stone is barely 3mm wide and 12mm long, so it's difficult to manipulate the little bugger. In any case, I managed to gash my finger pretty deeply while filing this thing. I dropped the stone and file and scooted to the sink to wash off the dirt. I've generally stopped using band-aids, so I had to superglue the cut (actually, I had to Zap-a-Gap the cut), use some tissue over the zapped gap, and bind the whole contrivance with sports tape. Now I'm having difficulty typing, much less manipulating jewelry... *Whines* Astoundingly, the cut didn't bleed at all, so I'm pretty thankful for that.

But I managed to misplace/drop/lose the stone during the chaos that was trying to get the cut sealed. It took me about an hour of rooting through my desk and environs before I found the damn thing. (It's conveniently the same color as my carpeting.) Meh. Frustrating thing is, I doubt this stone is going to look all that great, but with the amount of trouble I've gone through for this one (additional polish, burr filing, gash) it'd better be friggin' stunning.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wire Wrapping IV: The Saga Continues

I've run out of simple to wrap stones, so things get a little trippy right about now. We'll see how far I can get with the remaining stones.

Eye-to-tip: 1.6cm
This triangular stone shouldn't have been difficult, but part of the point decided not to cooperate, and I snapped
my first wire, so I had to scrap the original plan. And the triangular spiral? I think it was meant to balance out the mass of wires at the left, and to make the piece visually more complex.
This one is interesting--it looks pretty boring at first. The stone is a dark speckled brown, and there's a bit of gloss and not much else. Only at certain angles do the blue and green flecks show up. At most angles there's barely a hint of the flecks, and I had thought the stone was just poorly polished and therefore the flecks were clouded, but no, it's just a fickle stone.

Eye-to-tip: 1.6cm
Alright, this one was just obnoxious to work with.
The thickest part of the stone is barely 2mm, and most of the piece is 1mm, and the edges are tapered. I think I ended up crumbling 1/3rd of the blasted thing before I got the wrapping done. It's fully caged, but in a way different from the spiral cage several posts ago. This stone is a disc shape, and spiral wrapping would have left substantial lengths of wire with little support, so I had to come up with another way to protect the edges from chipping. Hence the bizarre bumper-rail-things. I wanted to be creative and make the cage a heart shape, but after the rock started crumbling a lot, I gave up and just followed the shape of the stone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wire wrapping, the third

Do we see a pattern in my posts?

The blue vein is pretty, though not as multi-hued and sparkly as some others. The pendant is just over 1cm, from eye to tip:

This one isn't a visually complex stone & wrapping, but I really like the flecks at the bottom point. Fullest width: 1.5cm. I like the subtlety & simplicity of this one:

OMFGSHINY. This one is really delicate, so I had to enclose all of it in wire, but I think the spiral works out fairly well. Eye-to-tip: 2cm. (I really like the uppermost vein--it's mostly nondescript till *Boom* = shiny.):

So the current line up (click for much larger view) is:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wire Wrapping, part II

Silver wrapped Boulder Opal chips (Matrix Opal).
(Largest pendant, tip to tip: 2cm.)

And close ups!

Many of these veins are translucent. I attempt to demonstrate it by strongly back-lighting two of these stones:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Boulder Opals

I bought some tubes of semi-raw Boulder Opals. All the unset Opals I could find were made to mounted flat, and none of them would have worked for wire-work. I am so happy to have found these tubes. (They still weren't cheap. Bah!) Now I need some thinner & softer wire.

Here's attempt #1 at wrapping:
Boulder Opal wrapped in Sterling Silver
(It's about 1cm wide and 1cm tall, so it's pretty tiny.)

Here are two shots of the tubes, before I pulled the Opals out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Orphaned chainmail

It looks like a cross between Parallel chain, Byzantine and Half-Persian 3-in-1:

I haven't been able to find any other examples of it, but it's hardly complex, so I'm guessing there has to be instructions somewhere on the internet.
If not, I get dibs on naming rights.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Manual Macro (kinda fuzzy, but much more zoom)

With a magnifying glass (cheap jeweler's loupe for me) supplementing your camera, you can get in really close to what you're photographing. It's not a crisp image (you're holding the magnifying glass manually, and it's hardly as precise an assembly as a camera lens), but it's much closer than macro-mode, and it's sufficient for a fair amount of detail.
I use it extensively when writing up instructions to provide some visual context, without the need for fine art photography quality.

Crane, Tiny
(for scale, that's a AA battery)
Click image to see it at 600x450 (which is still less than 29% of original image size)
No flash, on a point-and-shoot (5.1mpx)

And for comparison, a different item with similar composition on a different camera:
Stars, tiny.
This shot was taken with flash, on a DSLR (~10mpx?) It's clearer, I guess, but it's a royal pain to edit/crop.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Airport boredom, part I

Anodized titanium Jens Pinds, medium length choker, drape-y bits are in 1-in-2 weave.
I call this "Half of a 11 hour layover at LA", but I have yet to finish the other half (due to a lack of proper clasps).

And now I've learned that many airport security staffers can't distinguish between pliers and wire cutters via the x-ray screen:
Security: Hey, Bill, do we allow wire cutters?
Me: [Grumbling] I don't give a ship if you allow wire cutters or not, those are pliers!

Jars of loose chain links tends to get your bag opened for a closer inspection, but bright pink anodized aluminum rings gets you some awesome looks during the secondary inspection.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Remaining Stock!

Here's the chainmaille stuff I still have on hand! (Click on the images for large resolution)

All these bracelets (and one necklace) is in titanium, and the featured stones are all semi-precious gems (tiger's eye, jade, moss agate, etc.), pearls, cloisonne beads or silver-wrapped glass. Most of the clasps are magnetic.

These items are mostly copper, bronze or silver. The blue and silver band in the middle-ish is anodized aluminum.

Neoprene and anodized aluminum construction make these items stretchy! The thing in the top right corner is a dice bag made from galvanized steel and anodized aluminum.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Photoshop System Requirements (6-CS3 + Elements)

I spent quite awhile trying to find the system requirements for various editions of Adobe Photoshop. Surprisingly, wikipedia did not have these listed, so I had to compile my own set.

If anyone wants to take this info and post it to wikipedia, please do so. (For reference, most of these numbers came from Amazon sellers listing the old versions & full sys.req., or from's cached pages from Adobe themselves.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I'm giving away a lot of my ceramics, so lay claim to them soon, before someone else does. (I'm not adverse to being paid for any of these items, though, but I'm not really expecting payment.)

There are still more items I haven't added to the Adoption page, so check back frequently. (I'll attempt to have everything up by late monday/tuesday.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Penguin Waves!

Tug the string and the penguin waves!

Made from stoneware clay with commercial underglazes, fired to cone 05.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Experimentation with glass & ceramics

I had a blue bottle and a hammer. And then I had lots and lots of blue bottle bits. I pressed some into unfired porcelain, and then set some in the recess of a stoneware box lid. (I might etch the lid. Maaaybe.)

They turned out well, I think:

Beads, just under 3/4" and 1" tall.

Box! The stuff on the box is sprayed cobalt carbonate, but it's totally not blue. Oh well. The lid came out very nice, though:

Isn't that hot?

I'd put glass shards in the recess (about 1/4" deep), and drizzled hot wax over it to make sure no one would accidentally dump broken glass all over if they happened to bump the piece. (The wax burned out way at the beginning of the firing cycle.)

Disappearing Cheshire Cat shot glass!

I've been working at this idea for awhile: when etched glass is in contact with liquid, it becomes nearly transparent again. I thought about what designs would work well with this idea, and I hit upon the Cheshire Cat. I etched the cat inside the glass, but etched the grin on the outside, so when you pour water into it, everything disappears, leaving just the grin.
I plan on making a much cleaner/neater/preciser glass sometime, but for now, the concept comes through fine. (There's a video of the glass in action, if you scroll to the bottom of this post. And for low-bandwidth folks, there's a hilariously crappy animated gif instead.)

Before liquid

Pour booze in, and voila!
(It's water, actually)

Video of water being poured in!

I warned you it was hilariously crappy

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Spring + Snow == WTF & Photos

It's April, I'm on the middle of the East Coast of the United States. It snowed last night.

Let me reiterate: It. Freaking. Snowed. Last. Night.

I was rather convinced that it wouldn't actually snow, but since it did, I took the opportunity to get some photos of the confused-looking flowers covered in snow.

Enjoy their pain/appreciate their sacrifice to be that pretty.

I have 50+ photos, but most of them are essentially the same shot to compensate for composition/blur/lighting. Once I care, maybe, I'll post some more somewhere.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

ClawII: Vincent's left arm Redux

Vincent Valentine claw, from FFVII game character design. Mostly.
I'm rather determined to have the best Vincent costume ever. (My Vincent pwns yours. 'Specially that sparkly one. Really. WTF.)
Left arm, vambrace, articulated wrist, gauntlet. Click for larger resolution.
Story/details @ bottom of page.

Full view of claw vambrace & gauntlet

Closer look at gauntlet area

Demonstration of articulated joint

Moooonster energy drink (hence the 5am-ness)

For Otakon 2005 I cosplayed as Vincent Valentine.
The costume was a hybrid between the character design for the FFVII game and various info scrounged up for Advent Children and Dirge of Cerebus. The claw was borrowed almost entirely from the game design, but the clothes got upgraded to movie design. I also made the three barrel revolver (and a holster) to go with the mostly-movie-design costume. At the end of the convention, I sold the claw and gun, but kept the cloak & holster.
This spring break, I decided to re-create the claw. Curiously, I think my original was better made--I had a day or two in a machine shop in '05, so I was at a disadvantage for ClawII with just a drill and metal shears.

General construction information:
Vambrace, flared elbow-obstruction-thing, wrist and back-of-hand armor was all made of annealed aluminum. Pretty thick but really soft. Chicago screws for the articulated joint, and two-part rivets for the flare-to-vambrace fastening. There's some epoxy putty on the underside, mostly to cover the raw metal edge.
The glove is leather, previously with a cashmere lining. (I'd lost the other side, so I was fine with sacrificing the remaining one.) The plates on the gauntlet are made of polystyrene, thermo-formed on hand carved wood molds. The "rivets" are actually scrapbooking brads (which makes the inside of the glove a little uncomfortable, what with all the little bits of metal exposed).
The entire thing was spraypainted with Rustoleum's Hammered Finish Gold paint. I love the stuff--it's made to hide surface imperfections, so little scratches and nicks don't show, but it looks like an even finish. I tend to use it on all "metal" cosplay props I make. (Previous examples: ClawI and Movie-Van's lorica manica)
ClawI was constructed in pretty much the same way. I didn't change the design itself, but the details like the exact dimensions of the vambrace or elbow-obstructor weren't kept for ClawII. The materials and finish were the same.
Meanwhile: I do have ClawIII in the works. It'll be a claw based on the movie design. Similar materials, so far. (The scalloped gauntlet back was obnoxious to form by hand. Like "bend the metal into little ridges with no tools" obnoxious. I hope to find someone with tools that I can work with, 'else ClawIII isn't going to happen. I want it to be a well constructed claw, unlike ClawII.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Soapstone Critters

Bought a 2lb chunk of soapstone from a small arts supply shop near home. Took some files/rasps/sandpaper to a few little fragments and made these:
First item made was ... well, it's supposed to be a seal. Then I made a heart (that's the triangular thing--it's a horrid angle).

Then I made a penguin. (Penguin loves you~) That's the heart, at a better angle.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Helmets Teaset

I constructed an armet-burgonet cross helm for a teapot, and then added three tea cups to the set: Crusader great helm, Hoplite/Corinthian helm and a Norse helmet.

Story time!
Now, the armet-burgonet, great helm and Corinthian helms all have crests of various types that I could tweak into acting as handles, but I have found nothing that indicates Norse helmets having crests that stick out to any appreciable degree.
So what in the world can I do for a handle?
Other than crests, what else sticks out the back of a Norse helmet?

AXES, obviously.

And in conclusion: I am awesome.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cupid's Arrows: Skewers+Needles Edition

What's Valentine's Day without Cupid? Well, it'd be a bow and some arrows that hurt.

Two 6" skewers, two sewing needles, a scrap of paper, some floss and superglue.

These are pretty dangerous: from about 6 feet away, I can lodge one of these arrows in a piece of hardwood. (With craptastic acurracy, but that's beside the point.)

Directions on how these were made are here (thanks to

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I got the idea for these from a post on Instructables. I've collaborated with the original author, so if you want directions for these dreamcatchers, head there.
Dreamcatcher 1: Half-inch in diameter, copper ring wrapped in upholstery thread.

Dreamcatcher 2: Quarter-inch in diameter. Aluminum ring wrapped in "metallic" thread.

Dreamcatcher 3: Three-eighths of an inch across. Paperclip bent to shape, wrapped in upholstery thread.